Livni recommends rejection of Katsav parole request

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni recommended that President Shimon Peres reject a parole request by former president Moshe Katzav.

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Livni made the recommendation to Peres on Tuesday. Her recommendation reflects the position of the Justice Ministry’s Parole Board.

Katsav, 65, is serving a seven-year jail sentence for his conviction on two counts of rape and other sexual offenses. He entered prison in December 2011.The pardon request was filed by his wife, Gila, in October.

His petition reportedly asked for a pardon so that he can appeal the conviction and clear his name from outside of prison. It also says that Katsav did not get a fair trial and that having to resign as president was punishment enough.

Livni said in a statement issued to Peres that “the request submitted by his family describes the suffering that he and his family have endured since the story became known, including the accompanying publicity and public condemnation. I do not take the Katzav family’s suffering lightly, but it is not sufficient to justify parole.”  She also wrote that she took into consideration the women “whose honor he trampled and whose bodies and souls he desecrated while misusing his power and authority as an elected public official.”

Livni also said that Katsav’s continued claims of innocence and his refusal to apologize or express remorse figured into her decision.

Katsav is the first Israeli president sentenced to prison. Israel’s Supreme Court upheld his rape conviction and prison sentence in November 2011.

He resigned in the wake of the allegations shortly before the end of his term in 2007 and was succeeded by Peres.

Katsav, who immigrated to Israel from Iran in 1951, was elected president by the Knesset in 2000 in an upset over Peres.

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